The first thing Mentis did after seeing the girl jump off the cliff was to ring everyone he could think of that should be there. It took a while for him to work the phone but eventually, all the right people were called. Within an hour the place was filled with police and ambulance while a local coast guard was scouring the ocean to find the body.
The night’s events have left Mentis in a state of hatred and confusion. Hatred over what has been done to the girl and confusion over the circumstances he finds himself investigating. In the early hours, the coast guard announces that he’s found something. Police work on dragging the body up just as Erickson turns up with Stinton close behind. Mentis grumbles under his breath. Erickson always appears at the crime scene to play his role as the partner when all the paperwork and research has been done. Mentis would happily say something to him but he wouldn’t dare without the worry of whispers heading back to the chief. Then it would be his neck on the line.
Stinton’s lanky exterior greets Mentis in a warm manner with an awkward wave that he quickly turns into a head scratch. Unhinged by where he is. Mentis nods in response. There’s no such greeting from his apparent partner. Erickson’s 6-foot slender frame hangs off balance, probably intoxicated. His 30-year-old body looks haggard and his sagging face has tell-tale signs of alcohol abuse and an uncommitted attitude to being here.
“What do we have?” he asks in his brash woven voice.
Mentis narrowly avoids remarking on his choice of the word ‘we’ and leads them to the police who are now laying a black body bag on the floor inland, away from the edge of the cliff. Mentis walks straight up to the body bag, kneeling on the floor he unzips it carefully. A moment of shock befalls his features. It’s not Miss.Simms in the bag. It’s a woman but this woman is from a completely different generation. Signs of age hold onto her skin forming wrinkles and dark spots. She looks at least 80 and she has been dead a while by the stench and decomposition stage of the remains.
“It’s not her” Mentis acknowledges to the gathering of emergency services people around him.
The most shocking thing is that such as the young girl, this woman doesn’t have any eyes. In a remarkable resemblance to the other, they look like they have been dug out and all that is left are two large holes with perfectly rounded edges.
“What the fuck” Erickson regards in his ear before disappearing, assuming to help with the continued search.
Mentis sends Stinton to grab him a pair of gloves which allows Mentis to have a better look, starting with the teeth. Surprisingly well kept for someone of this age, the teeth are almost all their with only two missing. On closer inspection, Mentis predicts they may have been pulled by force due to the visual damage at the root. That’s not the only torture inflicted. At some point her finger and toenails have been pulled from the nail bed, they have struggled to grow back properly and look somewhat thin and claw-like as a result with skin covering them in a peculiar manner. A layer of dirt and dried blood are coated underneath suggesting she may have been dragged or tried to defend herself at some point. Possibly during her death. Her hair is matted and sparse due to her decomposition. Again, like the other, this woman has shredded clothing hanging sparsely onto her body with just a few threads holding everything together. It appears to have been a floral nightgown by the intricate detail and lack of shape. On her arms, there are thousands of small scratches, whether they are on from the bedrock or before she died it is uncertain.
“There’s another one” Erickson calls to Mentis.
Just as he stands to view the other body a glimmer of the morning’s sun rays draws his attention to a marking on the woman’s stomach. Barely visible by the mud and clothing. Removing the garment and using it to wipe away most of the dirt, the word ‘RUN’ is scrawled on her body it large uneven lettering. It’s old and is now only a faded scar but the letters are still readable. By the uneven format and lack of structure, Mentis assumes that it may be self-inflicted.
“Run from what? What does it mean?” Stinton’s voice is shaky.
“I don’t know” Mentis can only shrug off his words. He’s expecting the suspected Miss.Simms to be in the next bag and is more focused on that. With a begrudged feeling of guilt weighing down on his shoulders, Mentis walks to the other body bag and unzips it.
A silence of many emotions fills the air. Inside the bag is another John Doe. A man this time. With the same tell-tale signs, even the eyes. This man looks no more than 30, yet his decomposition makes him dead a good month.
“What-t-t. What is this?” Stinton squeaks in his ear.
Mentis has no words to support Stintons fear. He can only do his best to hide his own. A quick glance in Stintons directions tells Mentis that Stinton is fearful of more than just the presence of the body itself. Focusing on where is eyes lay, Mentis pulls aside a piece of degraded cloth on the man’s stomach. The word is more difficult to make out this time but it’s still there. ‘RUN’. The same word on both victims with their torturing appearance in such similarity. Mentis’s heart is racing with a sense of panic and adrenaline, unwilling to admit what it means. Erickson appears at Stinton’s side after scrounging through the remains of the other bodies. Hovering over Mentis’s knelt figure with a look of horror that even the strongest willed would succumb to.
“You know what this means” Erickson states in a stern tone.
Mentis is quick to jump in.
“It’s too early to tell. Forensics will need to be called in but they certainly have similar marks which….”
“We’ve found two more!” One of the police helping in the search call from the water’s edge below as a group of people are each dragging lifeless bodies out of the water.
Mentis springs into action as Erickson rushes to aid the police officers with the bodies.
“Stinton. Call the chief and tell him he needs to be here. Then I want you to call forensics and the department in the city. Get them to send people over. We need more people. Tell them we’ve found bodies and we may find more”
Stinton runs off in search of the nearest phone or radio whilst body after body is dragged from the murky depths.
“STINTON!” Mentis shouts towards his rushed childlike figure just as shouts are heard about another body being found.
“Tell them it’s a serial killer!”
Copyright, Charlie Wright. All rights reserved.